In response to the action of the General Board of the ABC-USA on Monday, June 21, 1999 "disfellowshipping" four churches in the Bay Area from the ABC-USA , the members of the First Baptist Church of Oakland sent the following letter on Sunday, July 4, 1999 to:
Hargis and the Berkeley First Baptist Church, Berkeley
Rev. James Hopkins and the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland
Dr. Richard Taylor and the New Community of Faith, San Jose
Rev. Kay Wellington and the San Leandro Community Church, San Leandro
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As we begin to walk through the valley of shadow cast by the decision of the General Board to toss aside four communities of faith, we find ourselves as a congregation filled with sorrow and anger. Although we cannot fathom how the decision feels for you, we are very aware that your struggle has been and continues to be bitter and taxing.
We are compelled to assert that the decision of the General Board to allow the disfellowshipping of your congregation is more than ill-considered. It is inherently incorrect and thoroughly unjust. It is abusive of your particular mission as a congregation and harmful to the life or our whole denomination. We are ashamed that such violence has been done in our American Baptist name. As we watch, moreover, it distresses us that your congregation and its mission have been reduced into a "societal issue.".
This day, then, we remember and claim that your church is not an "issue", but a people, indeed: "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people [1 Peter 2.9];" as such, you remain our people as well. Our prayers will be with you in your struggle, and much or our talent will be devoted to seeking ways to support you and undo the image our denomination has done. God's peace be with you, even as you seek justice.
Your sisters and brothers in Christ,
Oakland First Baptist